Thursday, June 26, 2008

shining eyes on one buttock

There's a lot of classical photography I don't get. Much of the sort of images that are hailed as old masters in the art leave me mostly cold. Largely, I think that's because I lack the historical context to realise how radically different they might have been at the time. Michael Johnston takes people to task in passing who say this about William Eggleston in this blog post. I feel that's a good example of what I mean. The context he describes suddenly makes it all make sense - I just didn't know enough beforehand to recognise why it might be interesting. Looking backwards, it looks just like everything else that went after. Another good example is the Steerage by Steiglitz. I've seen it several times before, but it wasn't until I got context for the image from one of Jeff Curto's great photographic history lectures that I could understand why that fairly pedestrian composition was so radical for its time. the context he provided made the image make sense.

In this great TED talk, Benjamin Zander provides context for classical music in a way that I haven't experienced before. There is maybe something to consider in there about looking at bodies of work of photography, rather than individual impulses or images as well. Even if you don't get any photographical inspiration I still think it is well worth the 20 minutes it'll take you to watch it. The parting thought is something to ponder for a while.


advman said...

Wow, that's powerful. I didn't know Benjamin Zander at all. And that final thought, well, it's not easy to bring tears to my eyes :)

Thanks for the inspiration.

Steve said...

I definitely recommend The Art of Possibility by Zander and Zander. Good stuff.